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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  March 8, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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the driver of a prius made a frantic call to 911 to report his accelerator was stuck. and the california highway patrol made a dramatic rescue. ben tracy is following the story and, ben, how did this happen? >> reporter: well, katie, obviously a pretty frightening afternoon for a driver here in southern california. details about what exactly happened are still coming in but here's what we know: the california highway patrol says around 1:30 this afternoon the driver of a toyota prius, similar to the one in the video you see here, called 911. basically said the driver says his car's accelerator was stuck and he couldn't slow the car down. this person was driving eastbound on interstate 8 near san diego as this all was happening and we're told at one point the car was going as fast as 90 miles an hour. now, here's the really interesting part. the highway patrol did respond and to get the runaway car to stop they had to move their patrol car in front of the prius put the brakes on the patrol car and slowly get the prius to slow
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down. now, we're told the driver was okay at the end of this. obviously very shaken. but the california highway patrol does expect to have a news conference shortly and they should have more details. but thankfully it ended well. katie, obviously a very, very frightening experience for that driver. >> couric: ben tracy. ben, thanks so much. ever since the recall crisis began, toyota has been apologizing over and over. but today we saw a very different toyota-- no apology this is time. instead, it was an allout effort to defend its reputation and answer critics who say they there's something wrong with the car's electronics. as national correspondent dean reynolds tells us, toyota tried to prove them wrong. >> reporter: in a demonstration that signaled a new aggressiveness by the automaker, engineers working for toyota today attacked critics and the news media for misrepresenting what may be wrong with toyota's cars. >> speculation is easy, science takes a lot more effort. >> reporter: the panel
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specifically questioned the work of southern il elle university professor david gilbert. he told congress last month that he'd shown toyota's electronics are vulnerable and that problems could go undetected by the car's on board computers leading to unintended acceleration. in effect, that the fail safe system to bring the car to a halt could fail and leave no record of the fault. >> to be quite honest, at the moment i discovered this i was sick at my stomach. >> reporter: a report on his research was aired by abc news on february 22. but today toyota's own engineering consultants from a company called exponent sought to debunk both the research and what was called abc's dramatized report. gilbert's conclusions, they said were based on extreme improbability. not only would the insulation on two wires-- separated in a six-wire bundle doctors to degrade, but that both wires would have to fail in a very precise sequence. >> professor gilbert has not provided any evidence that this
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has occurred or even could occur in the real world. despite that, he demonstrated the circuit on abc. >> reporter: the engineer said gilbert manipulated the car's electronic throttle system to get the engine to rev up without touching the gas pedal. so they did the same thing on a toyota and other brands and got the same results. but they argued that they were essentially meaningless. >> we don't expect that manufacturers should go and design the detection systems to detect unreasonable events. >> reporter: for its part, abc news said it simply reported on what gilbert found and will continue to report on toyota. while gilbert said he hopes to work with toyota on this issue. but critics, including safety advocate sean cane whoa is funding the research were not fol phied. said kaine "rather than say there's a problem that should be explored, toyota is going on the attack." now, toyota responded to the more than 60 complaints about
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problems with its cars even after they were recalled and supposedly fixed. they said they'd verify add few of those complaints and confirmed them and found that in some of those cases they were due to faulty repairs, katie. >> couric: dean reynolds reporting tonight from chicago on the toyota story. dean, thank you. now turning to the fight against childhood obesity. for years there's been an effort to make students healthier by keeping sugary soft drinks out of schools. and a report out today says it seems to be working. in 2004, the average high school student drank 36 soft drinks every year at school. today it's fewer than two. now michelle miller tells us this campaign is expanded beyond the classroom and from kids to adults. >> reporter: when former president bill clinton enlisted the beverage industry in fighting childhood obesity, he did not expect this much progress in just four years. >> i have to admit, i am stunned by the results. there has been an 88% reduction
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in the total beverage calories shipped to schools. >> reporter: the industry has been supplying healthier drinks to schools. that's still not good enough, say some public health officials. a growing number of cities and states wants to reduce adult consumption of sugary drinks by taxing them. new york has revived a proposal to impose a penny per ounce tax on sweetened beverages. colorado has already levied such a tax, so has illinois. california is considering it. a penny per ounce tax on sugared beverages would mean this two-liter bottle of coke which now retails for $1.79 would cost you 68 cents more, or a total of $2.47. >> i think it should be two cents per ounce. i don't mind payinging if more for it, it would probably discourage me from drinking it. >> reporter: but while the american beverage association agreed to slash shipments of sugary drinks to schools, it stands firm in opposing a tax.
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>> it won't work. if it's supposed to solve a complicated problem like obesity, the tax is not going to change behaviors. >> reporter: a study released today suggests it would, claiming an 18% price increase on soda would lead people to trim 56 calories from a daily diet. that's a five-pound weight loss over a year. >> it's the first stud i do actually follow people over time and show reduction in... increase in prices will matter for our public's health. >> reporter: new york's mayor estimates a tax would raise a billion dollars, suggesting what's good for the waistline could be good for the bottom line. michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and for more about this, you can go to our partner in health news and search "soft drinks in schools." now to the academy awards. if you were watching last night, you had a lot of company. more than 41 million americans
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tuned in, the biggest oscar audience in five years. we saw a david and goliath battle for best picture and an historic choice for best director. what we also saw, bill whitaker tells us, is the coming attractions, a preview of the new way hollywood will be making movies. >> reporter: when viewed in terms hollywood knows best-- money-- last night's matchup between "avatar" and "the hurt locker" seemed no contest at all all-time box office champ "avatar," $300 million plus to put on the screen, $2.5 billion in earnings versus little independent film "the hurt locker", $15 million to take, taking in just over $21 million. not only did "the hurt locker" blast past "avatar" to win best picture, it shook up hollywood's old boys club. >> well, the time has come. kathryn bigelow. >> reporter: kathryn bigelow, the first woman in 82 years of
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academy awards to win best filmmaker, beating out her ex-husband "avatar" director james cameron. >> i hope i'm the first of many. >> i think it's fantastic and, yes, it paves the way and a road that says it could happen to any of us. >> reporter: still, "avatar" is the movie truly making hollywood stand up and take notice, introducing a whole new world of 3d. >> i can't think of a more inspiring event to happen for the movie business in a decade than "avatar." >> dragons. >> reporter: dreamworks animations next release "how to train your dragon"-- in fact, all the studio's movies from now on-- will be in 3d. it adds about 10% to the cost of the movie yet disney's "alice in wonderland" in 3d took in $116 million this weekend, the sixth-biggest opening ever. >> there isn't anybody that has released a high-end 3d film that hasn't more than made the return
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on their investment in the movie theater alone. >> reporter: this isn't your grandfather's 3d from the 1950s with its shaky images and pounding headaches. today it's digital and it's taking off like a rocket. espn and other cable networks are launching 3d channels. 3d t.v.s hit the market this week. about $1,000 more than a comparable 2d set. electronics giant sony is launching 3d from all its platforms-- movies, t.v. and video games. >> it's gathering momentum because it startles you. it's better than you remember. >> reporter: "hurt locker" walked away with the gold statuette but hollywood is banking 3d was the real winner last night. bill whitaker, cbs news, hollywood. >> couric: meanwhile, sandra bullock is not only a big winner but a good sport. she won the oscar for best actress in "the blind side" the night after she accepted a razzie as worst actress in the
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turkey "all about steve." it's the first time an actor has won both awards in the same year. bullock brought the razzie audience a rag goneful of d.v.d.s and challenged them to actually watch the movie. and coming up next here on the "cbs evening news," iraq's election could pave the way for u.s. troops to finally come home. it was that day at the airport. carl had been diagnosed with alzheimer's... grandma! grandpa! but i waited to see how he did. julie? i'm amy, grandpa. that day i knew... i couldn't wait. our doctor told us prescription aricept... is the only treatment, proven effective for all... stages of alzheimer's. studies showed aricept... slows the progression of alzheimer's symptoms, it improves cognition... and slows the decline of overall function. we started carl on it right away. aricept is well tolerated but not for everyone.
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>> couric: they're still counting votes tonight in iraq's parliamentary elections but early estimates put the two parties run by the current and former prime ministers in front. insurgents tried to sabotage the process by attacking voters. even so, turnout in the fledgling democracy was 62%, the same as in the last presidential election here in the united states. and this election brings u.s. troops one step closer to leaving iraq. from baghdad, here's elizabeth palmer. >> reporter: a shave and a hair cut to start the week. iraqis are relaxing into a familiar routines again after the tension of an election that appears to have been a success. "now it doesn't really matter to me who gets in" says ali hassan, "as long as they make the country safe." the election may be over now but the results will take a few days to come in. even when they do, they're unlikely to produce one clear
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winner with enough power to rule. 12 million iraqis voted in 8,000 well-run polling centers. but they've chosen candidates from across the political and religious spectrum. and that means furious horse trading all summer to come up with a ruling coalition, which is fine, if the fight for power remains political. but shoppers and slop keepers we spoke to fear sore losers could turn back to violence. even two years ago dr. al isawi would have risked kidnapping or assassination if he sat on this busy street enjoying his lunch. he's afraid the bad old days could come back. >> very, very dangerous. >> reporter: you think so? >> in fact, we want to live in peace, you know? >> reporter: the american government wants that, too. it sent more than a thousand people with a budget of $2.6 billion to help iraq shore up its shaky institutions and fight
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corruption. >> this is the world's largest american embassy. we have more employees here than in any embassy in the world. we're not leaving. >> reporter: the dream of a new relationship based on american troops pulling out is a shared one. this ad was made back in 2005 to encourage iraqis to vote in the last election. the message then was "you vote, they'll leave." at last it appears that dream is coming true. elizabeth palmer, cbs news, baghdad. >> couric: in washington today, the supreme court agreed to hear a case that could test the limits of free speech. it involves a church group from topeka, kansas, that has picketed military funerals to spread its belief that american war deaths are punishment for tolerating gays and lesbians. the court will decide whether the group's message is, in fact, protected by the first amendment. and coming up next, letters to jackie. a first lady in mourning.
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>> couric: as first lady, jacqueline kennedy brought style and elegance to the white house and the country fell in love with her. and in the darkest days of her life, nancy cordes tells us, americans shared her pain in letters that have just been made public. >> reporter: when president john f. kennedy was killed, a grieving nation put pen to
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paper. 1.5 million mourners sent condolence letters to the first lady who promised to try to read each one. >> all of you who have written to me know how much we all loved him and that he returned that love in full measure. >> reporter: at her request, 15,000 of the letters were archived at the john f. kennedy presidential library in boston which is where, more than four decades later, an american history professor named ellen fitzpatrick stumbled across them and was captivated. >> they're from dairy farmers, coal miners, housewives, from college professors. there's a letter from a 99-year-old man who had lived through all four presidential assassinations. >> reporter: his is one of 220 letters that appear in fitzpatrick's new book "letters to jackie." >> i'm only in third grade... >> reporter: kevin radell was eight years old in 1963 but had a lot to say. >> i wanted to phone you but my father told me not to because
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it's not spite so i didn't. we had a good weapon and he could not miss. i wish he did miss and didn't even think of killing. i guess some people are that way and don't think of what they're doing. i bet you feel sad. >> reporter: today he's a 55-year-old investment banker living in new york city. >> she reminded me so much of my mother and her children reminded me so much of my own siblings. i just felt that it was a death in my own family. >> reporter: gabrielle gidion didn't have any family. she had escaped hitler's germany. and yet she wrote this to jackie kennedy. >> yet never until last friday have i felt such a desperate sense of loss and loneliness. i'm a part of america's history and i'm very proud to be a part of america's history in a minuscule way. >> reporter: fitzpatrick says she was struck by the sense of media any the letters. ordinary americans who felt connected to the kennedys. >> i found a letter from a man named steven hanrahan that i
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thought particularly beautiful. it sounded liked the been written by a poet and you get to the letter and you realize he's an inmate in a federal penitentiary. >> reporter: in the president, he writes, i felt that i had known a whole man. it's a rare experience but always an illuminating and ennobling one. nancy cordes, cbs news, washington. if you have heartburn more than one day a week, you're one of fifty million americans with frequent heartburn. try prilosec otc. heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. unlike some treatments that neutralize acid, prilosec otc shuts down many acid-producing pumps for twenty-four hours of heartburn protection with just one pill a day. plus, it's the number one doctor recommended acid reducer. treat frequent heartburn for twenty-four hours with prilosec otc. this has been medifacts for prilosec otc.
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>> couric: defense secretary robert gates is in afghanistan tonight. he predicted there will be some dark days ahead but he also said there's reason for optimism. for those who have loved ones headed to war, there is fear but also pride. here's steve hartman with a very personal "assignment america." of the 30,000 new troops headed for afghanistan... how are you doing? this one is the most special. good to see you. you're all grown up. at least to me he is. i've known 21-year-old marine lance corporal heinrich sole toe since he was a third grader. that's home. heinrich was my little fwlor the big brothers program.
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he grew up in l.a. with his mom and older sister and a younger sister which meant i was the only male figure in his life. the only one he had to talk to about intellectual guy-type stuff. >> well, i don't remember how it feels like vomiting and i don't think i would like vomiting anymore. >> reporter: no. >> does anybody like it? >> very few people like vomiting. >> reporter: heinrich and i got together once a week ever week for ten years. i've seen a lot of changes in him, but nothing as dramatic or as positive as what i see now. this story is about how the marines changed him. >> i had no discipline whatsoever. >> reporter: and how by changing him, the marines changed me. >> i'm not successful by any means but... >> reporter: no, you are successful by a lot of means and i guess that's what i'm realizing. before joining the few and the proud, heinrich belonged to the bored and the uninspired. in high school, he was a five-star underachiever and in
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college... >> terrible. >> reporter: his grades were so bad he still won't tell me what they were. all i know is he dropped out. and yet his staff sergeant here at camp pendleton says he's a model marine. what did you do? >> teach them to work as a team. put them stressful situations and training. he'll come back more mature. >> reporter: even more mature? i don't know if i'd recognize him. >> i never really knew the value of a hard day's work until i joined the marine corps. >> reporter: the fact is... >> i think it's about wanting to be there. >> reporter: ...heinrich never wanted to be in college. that was my more dream than his. did you feel pressure to go? >> oh, yeah. oh, yeah. i. >> reporter: i think at the time i thought everybody should go to college. i don't think college has to be the way for everybody. i realize that now. ironically, we're still at odds on the issue. >> i know eventually i'm going to have to get out of the military. >> reporter: we've just switched sides. not necessarily. now he thinks he may want to go back to college and i think he's
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great here. that's a decision for another day. >> let's go soltow! >> reporter: last month he and the rest of his company shipped out for afghanistan, which is my new beef with the military. here they hand you this whole new person to appreciate and then all too often... >> love you. >> reporter: ...ship them right back out again. heinrich's company is on a security duty in afghanistan and if all goes well they'll be back home in 82 days. but who's counting? >> couric: i think you are. what a nice friendship. thanks for sharing that with us. that was sweet. tell us about next week. is. >> reporter: okay. next week. how do you raise inner city kids to stay out of trouble? this man says on a wing and a prayer. this man says on a wing and a prayer. his story next monday night.
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sandra's celebration, our "vanity fair" exclusive. this is "entertainment tonight." >> sandra bullock, george clooney. cameron diaz. mo'nique. jeff bridge, matt damon. >> hey, tough to get an invite to this thing. >> meryl streep and oprah winfrey. >> "e.t." is in the oscar groove. >> sandra bullock, unforgettable night. >> i am one on one with hollywood's best. and the oscar goes to -- >> if i can take this moment to thank helga. >> and the


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